The 2021 holiday shopping season is underway and for many businesses this means emphasizing best practices in customer satisfaction. As customers shop at their favorite small businesses, now is also the time to consider strategies for how these businesses may receive reviews from satisfied customers.

Encouraging customer review

What are customer reviews? When a customer purchases a product or invests in an offering, they generally do so because they plan to use to meet a need. Customers will share their experience, whether positive or negative, in using this product through a review.

A customer review is a powerful form of feedback. Here are some of the reasons why customer reviews matter to businesses of all sizes.

  • Reviews are influential. A glowing review can influence others to shop at the business and purchase its products or offerings. This can help grow the audience of a small business and allow it to tap into new demographics.
  • They enhance company credibility. Customers will be more likely to shop with a business that has a consistent track record of customer experience excellence.
  • Businesses can learn from customer reviews. This is true of both positive and negative reviews. In the case of positive reviews, companies are better able to determine which of their offerings are the most popular with customers or what it is about the type of experience they offer that keeps customers coming back. If a review is negative, businesses are better able to determine where they need to improve and do better by the customer.

Now that you understand what customer reviews are and why they matter to businesses, let’s look at a few ways small businesses can encourage customers to write and share reviews.

1. Establish a Business Presence on Crowdsourced Review Platforms

It’s going to be difficult for customers to review your business if you are not readily visible online. The best way to resolve this issue is to establish a business presence on crowdsourced review platforms. Some popular sites include Trustpilot and Yelp. Here, customers can write reviews, add photos from their visit or experience, and rate through a five-star system.

What all do you need to establish a business presence on these sites? Here are a few aspects to consider as you begin.

  • Business bio. This is a few sentences about what your business does and offers customers.
  • Category. Some review platforms, like Trustpilot, will give you the chance to pick the category, or industry, that best reflects your company’s offerings.
  • Location. Include your business street address, city, and state so customers know where to find you.
  • Hours. Share your hours of operation and note any days where you are closed.
  • Contact information. This includes your phone number and website.

You may also encourage customers to leave reviews on social media platforms where your business has a presence. Just make sure that you actively engage with these platforms to ensure customers, and their needs, are being met and heard.

Posting online reviews via smartphone

2. Start a Customer Review CTA

It’s always a bit awkward to outright ask customers to review your business, isn’t it? The better approach is not to bombard customers at the check-out line about leaving reviews. Instead, find more subtle ways to encourage a call to action (CTA) that enables customers to take initiative.

Here are a few approaches to get started:

  • Follow-up. After a positive shopping experience or visit with your storefront, call or email guests. Follow-up about their experience and see if they need any help moving forward, whether that means scheduling in another visit or purchasing another item that may act as an accompaniment to their initial purchase. Wrap it up with a mention about how you appreciate feedback and link to the platforms where your customers may leave reviews.
  • Regularly highlight reviews. If you receive a positive review, you may include it in an upcoming e-newsletter, give it a shout-out on social media, or share the news on your company blog or in a podcast episode. Customers feel special when they receive a kind shout-out from a business they like and trust. They may be compelled to share the good news with their existing networks, allowing more people to discover your business and potentially become customers.
  • Spotlight team members. Small businesses are often run by tight-knit teams. These team members get to know a lot of different customers and often become quite well-known for their hard work and dedication. Highlight your team members on social media platforms. Customers that have had positive interactions working with them will be more likely to call out their favorite team member by name when leaving a review. This is a win for both your business and its team, which is going above and beyond in doing incredible work!

3. Encourage Reviewers to Follow-up

How does this work? If you were pleased with a visit or experience you had with a business a few years ago and a recent return was just as wonderful, write about it on social media or review platforms.

Doing this gives reviewers the chance to tell a story. They may begin by talking about their initial experience with the business from some time ago and how it has continued to go above and beyond no matter how much time has passed. Sharing these types of legacy reviews allows further cements trust in a brand. If someone you look up to swears by it, then there’s a good chance that you may have a similar, positive experience of your own.